10-12-2011, 05:50 PM
Haley: Chiefs O-Line jelling
One unit hurt the most by the NFL's labor dispute might have been the Chiefs' offensive line.
Guard Ryan Lilja shifted from the right side to left guard, replacing Brian Waters, and Jon Asamoah, a second-year player from Illinois, slid into the starting lineup at left guard this season.
Tackles Branden Albert and Barry Richardson are back along with center Casey Wiegmann, but the quintet had precious little time to work together during the offseason because of the NFL's labor dispute.
“There were some changes coming into this year that we knew were occurring,” Haley said.
He continued, “You missed a lot of time where they're working together, because they do a lot of communicating. Now, you're seeing that group come together.”
Haley praised Asamoah's evolution as a big reason the team's run game improved against the Colts, rolling up 194 yards on the ground.
“He's been right at the heart of that,” Haley said. “You're really seeing him start to come on and pick up where he ended last season.
"He's becoming more comfortable with some of the veteran guys we've got, and they are becoming a nice, tightly woven unit right now.”
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chiefs Buzz | Veterans relax in light bye-week practice
The Chiefs veterans who sat out Tuesday’s light bye-week practice weren’t thrust into the role of coach as they were last season, but that doesn’t mean the players were mere bystanders.
“I didn’t go with the formal coaches this year, but some of the more veteran guys who won’t be doing a ton have been asked to participate and work along with the young guys,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said.
Running backs Le’Ron McClain and Jackie Battle, who were injured against the Colts on Sunday, didn’t participate in drills.
Wide receiver Steve Breaston and Keary Colbert also observed as the offense went through its paces. Offensive linemen Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja also rested, as did tight end Leonard Pope.
“I made it clear that I didn’t want any clock-punchers this week,” Haley said. “This is an opportunity for us to get better. We’ve made some progress the last two weeks, but we’re by no means where we need to be.”
Maneri works out at tight end
Without Pope available, Jake O’Connell was the only active tight end on the roster for Tuesday’s practice.
That prompted Haley to have Steve Maneri work out with the tight ends.
Maneri, who has yet to appear in an NFL regular-season game, is a 6-foot-6, 290-pound tackle.
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Houston, the Chiefs claimed Maneri off waivers from New England last September. He played tight end at Temple.
O’Connell also played some at fullback during Sunday’s win at Indianapolis after McClain left the game because of a neck injury.
Haley downplayed any worries about McClain and Battle, who led the Chiefs with 19 carries for 119 yards in Sunday’s come-from-behind win.
“I don’t foresee it as something major,” Haley said when asked about McClain’s neck injury.
When asked about Battle’s status, Haley replied: “Same thing.”
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com
Q&A with Todd link
just the link
not broken down in paragraphs/mess to post
10-12-2011, 05:54 PM
(posts a little better than I thought)
2 hours ago
OPENING REMARKS: “Players meeting right now, had a little lift early this morning, going to be out on the grass field, hopefully, weather permitting and be in pads. This is a very good day for us to get some good technique work for the entire group, but especially some of the guys that haven’t been able to play a lot of our defense, offense or special teams, for that matter, but at the same time, us to be able to fine tune in a lot of different areas for us to make some progress today. So, a big day for us. Looking forward to getting out there and then these guys will have a little time to themselves to regroup and put some gas in their tank and get ready to go for Oakland.”
Q: Is it a challenge coaching-wise when they’ve got their eyes on leaving or are they more fired up to get some time off?
HALEY: “It always takes some tricks. We decide what we want to do first and what we want to do last and kind of plan around how we want to handle Monday. It’s always a big day, just to make sure that everybody is around and ready to go and doesn’t get too far removed one way or the other. At the same time, it’s an important time. I always suggest watching some of the football on Sundays because these guys don’t get to watch a lot of football and just watch a game develop. I always think there’s a lot to learn there when you’re watching a game. Really, they only get to see a Monday night game, generally, when we’re playing on a Sunday. We’re not trying to put too many restrictions on them, but at the same time, what’s important for our team is that we not just pick up where we left off, but I want to pick up a little further ahead because that’s really the name of the game for us is just to keep getting a little better each day and each week, so this is no different.”
Q: In these three days of introspection, self-scouting, self-analysis, what things have popped up? What have you seen?
HALEY: “Third down is a problem, both sides, in some certain areas. It’s not all-encompassing. There’s certain areas where we need to be better within third down. Starting games, it’s easy to get after, but as we started to study and go through, really, a couple games we’ve moved the ball, just found ways to shoot ourselves in the foot offensively. And we’ve started some games defensively in pretty good fashion and others not so good, so hard to find a real pattern other than that it always comes back to what you and I talked about yesterday. The No. 1 thing on the top of the Chiefs list, I know is, ‘Do not turn the football over.’ When we don’t turn the football over – factor in a bunch of other things – that’s a key to us being much more successful.”
Q: Can you talk about Matt Cassel’s play over these last three weeks?
HALEY: “He’s getting better and I think guys around him are getting better also. Like I said, as much as I’d like to say Indianapolis was about we made all these great adjustments or this, that and the other, we had a good discussion offensively and defensively there at halftime about that we needed to just keep doing the things we were doing, just a little better. I’m never one to say, ‘We played man and so-and-so got beat, he’s just got to play better.’ I’ll never be that guy, that coach. I’ve always been taught and believed that, ‘Well, then you should have been doing something else.’ At halftime of that game, it was clear that just technique-wise, things that were very controllable, that we could manage, that our players could manage, needed to be done just a little more the way we had practiced them and talked about and worked on. That’s what happened and everything started to look a lot better when that one degree got a little better from everybody.”
Q: Dexter McCluster presents matchup problems. I feel like he was on the field for 12 snaps on Sunday. What needs to be done to get him more involved in the offense and out there more often?
HALEY: “He had a couple big opportunities. He converted one third down and one he slipped down and I don’t know whether we get it or not. We’re putting Dexter in some pretty big spots and even some protection spots where we’re asking a lot of him. There’s a lot of factors that go in to how much guys play and are affected. Probably, in that game the thing that occurred that cost Dexter snaps, in my opinion, was when our fullback went down because most of his packages were tied to what we called ‘regular.’ With no fullback, we were kind of hamstrung in certain packages, at least the ones that Jake [O’Connell] or Jackie Battle couldn’t come in and us feel comfortable that whether it was how much work they got at it or just what we were asking them to do that we could get it done. Really, it was one of those games of circumstance. But, the third down Dexter converted was as big as any other, in my opinion, the ball he caught on their sideline and was able to get up and get the first. I’m excited about Dexter, and really what we come to every week is just trying not to put too, too much on his plate, but I don’t think the 12 snaps was necessarily reflective of the plan we had going in.”
Q: Are you guys still figuring out the best way to use him or do you feel like you know and he just needs the experience doing it?
HALEY: “I’m excited about what we’ve done with Dexter, the move we made. I think this is a really good role and spot for him and we’ll let that grow as it grows. But at the same time – what I’ve talked about all week – when you’re making a position move, even though it’s a position he had played a bunch in college or some in college, missing the offseason was tough, so we really tried to accelerate him learning this new third down/halfback, motioning out role that he’s kind of evolving into. I think we’re on to where Dexter can really help us and where he can really thrive and it’s just a matter of trying to get everything taught. He’s got great versatility, but for us, we come up with tons of ideas, but you’ve still got to practice them. He’s still got to be comfortable doing them, and then you’ve got to get them called. I’m excited about Dexter’s development to this point. I really am, and I think he’s going to do nothing but continue to help us. The protections were the big thing and he’s done really a good job in protection. We’ve asked him to block some big people.”
Q: I looked at Jackie Battle as a body, a fringe player. He had some fumbles in training camp. What is it about him that you guys liked about him so much?
HALEY: “First and foremost, when we came in here and you look at his dimensions, he was a guy that was 268 pounds or something and ran 4.4 flat coming out. He might have not have run it at that weight, but he was a big man running fast, so that gets your attention right away. Like I said, early on he did a great job of buying in to the offseason and conditioning. He lost a ton of weight. We got him down to 230. But even last year in the preseason, I thought he was one of the stars of preseason that everybody was really excited about. Again, because of circumstances and just where we were and the way the season started and the way things went, he ended up playing a lot more special teams and not so much on offense, probably not as much due to him as to just us and as we kind of went through the year. As I said earlier this week, Coach [Maurice] Carthon has championed Jackie from the start and really believes in and has believed in him and that he could develop into a running back that could really help us. That’s gone on from the start. We knew guys were going to get opportunities here with the situation early on with losing Jamaal [Charles], and I’m just happy that Jackie has seized his opportunity. He’s getting better, there’s no doubt. Like anybody, getting to play and gain experience has been really huge for him. He got to carry the ball 19 times in the game. He got a couple catches. He got a couple runs at the end of the Minnesota game. There’s some things that Jackie has really improved in his game that are making a big difference with how he runs the ball and we’re all excited with him going forward and how much he can help us. The yards after contact gets your attention. That’s something we’ve been emphasizing, and when you totaled up last week, at the end of the game against Minnesota, knowing he got a lot of yards after contact and then against Indianapolis, when you started totaling up those numbers and it was 4.8, whatever it was, and you could see it, that gets you pretty encouraged about big backs that can run fast and can run hard like that.”
Q: You talked about the bye week being a chance to retool the offense. What is the state of the running game right now and how is Le’Ron McClain?
HALEY: “I’m optimistic Le’Ron is going to be fine. I wouldn’t say retool is what I said at the beginning of this week, I just think that we’ve made some adjustments on the fly due to injuries on both sides of the ball – and really special teams also – and we haven’t had a lot of time to really work on those things, other than a couple practice days each week that are really live or full-speed practices. We just needed to take advantage of these couple days to really get some much needed work on some of those adjustments that have been made and some of the things that we feel like we’re going to continue to use going forward, but it’s not going to look different. We’ve just got to continue to develop the guys that are out there and working and helping us and knowing that there are probably other injuries that’ll occur and we’ve got to have guys ready to go.”
Q: What are those adjustments you’re talking about?
HALEY: “Just subtle adjustments. Defensively, we’re probably not playing nearly as much man-to-man coverage, and that was something with Eric [Berry] out there, he made up for the margin of error for a lot of people, in addition to being able to cover most anybody you ask him to cover. We’re trying to play to our strengths a little more, which with him not in there is probably not quite as much man, although you’ve got to play man and we’ve got to continue to work and get good at it. Offensively, it’s just you’ll see just the style of some of the runs and calls made that you adjust to the guys you have and what they do best. Those are just more subtle adjustments. Probably the more obvious offensively for us is with losing Tony [Moeaki] is that you probably see a little different look from the tight ends. We’re not going to ask the guys we have to necessarily run routes that we wanted him to run. I think that’s coaching. You just plays to the guys’ you have strengths and that’s why I’ll never be lumped in the ‘system’ coaches. I just believe in coaching to your team’s ability as best you can and focusing on that.”
Q: Having played from behind, it’s compelling for the fans. From your point of view, is it as simple as lack of execution early?
HALEY: “Yeah, like I said, it’s one thing or another early. In Detroit, we got the ball and we moved down the field pretty much at will on the road. It didn’t seem like we were getting a whole lot of resistance. We come up a yard short, get a penalty in the red zone that probably kept us from, or we chose to kick it there, little things that have stopped us, turnovers obviously in those first two games. But, Detroit, I thought, again, if you’re talking juts first possessions, we came out and moved the ball down the field. San Diego, we were a yard short three different times in the first half for converting a first down and we had some of those type of woes last year and even at the end of the first year where we’ve got guys that got an opportunity to get the first down on first or second down and we don’t get it and to me, it’s just awareness and emphasis of, ‘Hey guys, if you’re close, we’ve got to try to get this and stay out of third down,’ because the best solution for third down is not being in it. Like I said, we’ve done pretty good research in trying to figure out exactly what it is, but we’re going to play a certain way and I think we’re going to continue to play that way here until we feel that we need to do it another way.”
Q: Is it possible that your favorite play of Sunday’s game wasn’t the touchdown or run to seal, but the play where Dwayne got the penalty?
HALEY: “I said that was my fault though because he heard me yelling. I was fired up then he did something dumb, but I’m glad it didn’t hurt us.”
Q: But that was a big play to stretch for the first down, right?
HALEY: “The fact that he got the first down there – even with the penalty – was huge because that’s the different between being second and six or first and 10, you’re just five yards further back. It’s really what is I think is going to be a really important statistic for our team the rest of the way. It’s a hidden statistic that gets overlooked a bunch, I think, inside and out and that’s run after catch and yards after contact. To me, really, the San Diego game, the Minnesota game and the Indianapolis game, essentially there is not a lot of difference in those games – turnover percentage, hidden yardage, penalties, total yardage, some of those things – until you total up that number, that yards after catch and yards after contact. In that San Diego game, we had 92 yards total or something like that on 43 runs and catches. In Minnesota, that number went up to 120-something on 45 runs and catches or something. Now, last Sunday, that number went up to 250 yards, and that’s something that I think is very coachable, is very changeable, obviously, and it’s not asking somebody to do something that they’re not capable of doing. Thomas [Jones], I thought, got a bunch of yards after contact Sunday. Jackie Battle, obviously. I thought the receivers, tight ends, backs, everybody… We’ve emphasized it, we’ve worked hard on that every one of those yards counts. If it’s simply just falling forward for a yard like Dwayne did there, that every one of those yards adds up. Then, the key is to make sure that you complete enough balls and run it enough. In all those games, we ran it enough and we completed it enough to win those games and we didn’t turn it over, so that’s a difference maker for me, so I was excited. Long answer.”
Q: Is Matt’s touch better? Is his zip better? Or is it his overall delivery of the ball?
HALEY: “I think it’s just understanding, it’s feel, it’s confidence. But, like I said, everybody is playing better. When those kind of plays happen, everybody is doing their job a little better, not significantly better, but a lot better. The quarterback has to rely on guys to be where they’re supposed to be, to be there when they’re supposed to be there, and then it’s his job to get the ball to them in a place where it can be caught. I think it’s just our team developing and getting better.”
Q: Brandon Carr is one of the only guys from his draft class that has started every game of his career. Your thoughts on Carr?
HALEY: “I like Brandon. I like Brandon a lot and I’m glad he’s on our team and I hope he continues to be on our team. He’s another guy that has made… He came in here and really we weren’t playing the type of defense we’re playing now when we got here, and much like a bunch of guys, there was an adjustment period where you’re asking somebody to do something a different way. And he’s coming from a smaller college and it does take time to get integrated in. Again, he started, but [the Chiefs] weren’t winning a bunch of games. So, I give him a ton of credit for starting, but again, that would be a much more meaningful statistic had you been winning a bunch of games, not that it was his fault or anybody else’s. That’s neither here nor there. He’s continued to get better. He’s our kind of guy. I know that he’s one of the leaders of that secondary and I wouldn’t have thought that early on because he’s a quiet, quiet guy. But, you see that he’s quietly leading and the guys like him and they rally around him and those are great attributes, in addition to what you said. He’s big, fast and he’s making very good progress. I’m excited about Brandon and our entire defense. You talked about the run after catch – not nearly as important as the flip side because you control the flip side and there’s going to be missed tackles for our defense and I think if you’re trying to play perfect, you’re going to be disappointed or if you’re relying on playing perfect to win games defensively, offensively or special teams, that you’ll be disappointed because it’s hard to do. That falls under the grounds of everybody swarming, running to the ball, tackling, using good technique to tackle, not allowing a ton of yards after contact, which we’ve done a pretty good job of, especially here through these last three weeks.”
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